Best Practice – A Solution to Sustainability in the NDIS

The Bigger Picture – My Observations

As I go about my business of coaching and training practitioners and leaders in the Disability space, I find myself standing back and observing the big picture impact of the NDIS. It feels to me like a steam train, quickly gathering momentum as it rolls out region-by-region, gathering speed as it goes and waiting for no-one. Like any change as massive as this, teething problems are prevailing, questions are remaining unanswered and tensions are running high. Many practitioners I encounter seem to be quietly struggling, perhaps not wanting to speak out for fear of appearing negative in the face of this significant reform.

Aspirations

When I connect individually with either executives, managers, front line leaders or practitioners, I hear their commitment to wanting to make the NDIS work in the way it was intended. They all aspire to provide high quality services that are in line with best practice and honour the right and need for participants to have choice and control in their use of these services.

What I also hear is the practitioners desire and need to be heard and understood and to have a voice that gives them some sense of influence in the way they go about their work. Not in a selfish way, but more about providing services that they feel are effective and in line with what they came to this job to contribute.

Perceptions

I am struck by how very different some of the decision makers and client facing practitioner perspectives are and how compelling each account of their challenges and solutions can be. What is also interesting is how in so many of these situations, the different players do not really understand the way the other sees their world.

To my mind, it is this foundation of non-judgemental communication and understanding of the other person’s perspective, that is the hidden gold to finding solutions to the practical challenges of sustainability. There are always new ways to address new issues, but none of these will really stick if we are not working in true partnership toward the common goal. It is what we espouse in best practice in working with our families, it is equally best practice in working with each other as providers.

Impact

It is not uncommon to hear practitioners speak about how they have been told that in order for their positions to be sustainable, they will need to work at a minimum of 75 – 80% billable hours. (This number varies from agency to agency but is essentially still a challenging ask.) I am in no way questioning whether this is right or wrong, I am focusing instead on they way in which directives are delivered and how they are supported to process and achieve this necessary goal.

As practitioners describe their struggles with navigating the new system and productivity requirements, it has become clear to me that they are wondering how the best practice that they have come to value, can still be viable or will even be valued by the less informed or service-educated participant or referral source.

The possible consequence of this means that a practitioner may feel that they will have to compromise by providing intervention that is not in line with their current high standards.  Will the new or modified way of working adequately meet the family needs (which is paramount) but also the need of the practitioner to contribute quality services?

So what do we do?

In order to overcome these challenges, we are going to have to innovate. We will need to find new, more efficient and effective ways to work, that satisfy both participant and practitioner alike. This is the fun bit! It is where we get to utilise the talent in the team, to join forces to create something new and compelling. If this is what is needed, we need to create sound, co-creative cultures that serve not only as the anchor in difficult times, but will also mobilise people to pull together to thrive.

We need solid middle managers, who make it a priority to connect with their staff, who value their ideas and who are capable of reliably and accurately carrying across the information, the sentiment and the reality of staff on the ground into the boardroom.  If this is missing in an organisation, then it is not hard to imagine that staff will become disconnected, disillusioned and unlikely to stick around for the long haul.

As with any relationship, cultures need ongoing focus and effort, courage and time to reap the rewards in the NDIS.

Hi there! I’m Jacqui Snider and I’m here to help you and your business grow and flourish.

As an Occupational Therapist and Workplace Culture Coach and Trainer, I am passionate about helping individuals and organisations develop better home and workplace practices that everyone enjoys being part of. With more than 35 years of coaching experience, I have personally coached and trained in excess of 350 leaders, bringing about transformational change in both individuals and teams.

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